Understanding criminal behavior is central to the operation of a modern criminal justice system. As a student earning a bachelor's in criminology, you'll gain insight into the mind of a criminal from a variety of social science perspectives. These perspectives, in turn, inform how crime is managed and prevented. By studying criminology, you'll also gain access to variety of career options in law enforcement, criminal courts, and corrections. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall job prospects for law enforcement officials are good, specifically for individuals with bachelor's degrees. The following page will explore what to expect from an online bachelor's in criminology program, including degree specializations, interesting coursework, and career prospects.

What are the best criminology programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 University of Florida Online Gainesville, FL
2 University of South Florida Tampa, FL
3 University of Wisconsin Whitewater Whitewater, WI
4 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
5 LeTourneau University Longview, TX
6 Missouri State University Springfield, MO
7 Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Saint Mary of the Woods, IN
8 University of North Carolina at Wilmington Wilmington, NC
9 Regis University Denver, CO
10 Arizona State University Scottsdale, AZ

What Jobs Can I Get With My Bachelor's In Criminology?

A bachelor's in criminology is suitable for entry-level criminologist roles. Criminologists analyze statistical data in order to study the origins of different criminal behaviors. Those who have a bachelor's in criminology and extensive law enforcement experience may also qualify for leadership positions, such as deputy chiefs or police chiefs.

What Skills Will A Bachelor's In Criminology Equip Me With?

Criminology degrees demonstrate how to collect, organize, and interpret different kinds of statistical data related to crime and criminal behavior. Many programs have lab components where students gain hands-on experience working with different data collection tools and materials. Most criminology degrees also cover social science topics such as criminal justice and law, psychology, and sociology.

Will An Online Criminology Program Work With My Schedule?

Some online criminology bachelor's degrees follow a synchronous schedule that mirrors the format of brick-and-mortar programs, including weekly assignments. However, many programs are asynchronous, meaning students complete required coursework at their own pace. Asynchronous programs are ideal for students with jobs, childcare duties, and other commitments that may conflict with a standard college schedule.

The Best Online Bachelor's in Criminology Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of Florida Online

Gainesville, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

UF Online offers a bachelor of arts in criminology that provides students with the theories and methods for studying the intersections of crime, law, and society. Graduates with online criminology degrees can pursue jobs as criminal investigators, probation officers, and substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors.

UF Online's criminology degree requires 120 credits and takes four years to complete. Major requirements include courses in advanced principles of criminal justice, law and the legal process, and law and society.

Each candidate must possess a high school diploma (or equivalent), a cumulative "C" average, competitive SAT or ACT scores, and a record of good conduct. A transfer applicant must hold a minimum 2.5 GPA and have completed prerequisite courses, such as intro to statistics. UF Online is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

2

University of South Florida

Tampa, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

USF offers a bachelor of science in applied science with a concentration in criminal justice for those who possess an associate of science from a Florida public institution and want to pursue a bachelor's degree. The criminal justice concentration prepares students for graduate school or professional training related to law enforcement, detention, and corrections.

This applied science degree with a concentration in criminal justice requires 60 credit hours beyond the associate degree. Core concentration courses include theories of criminal behavior and survey of the criminal justice system.

Each applicant must have completed an AS degree from a Florida state or community college with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Enrollees can transfer up to 60 credits from the AS degree into the bachelor of applied science program. USF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

3

University of Wisconsin Whitewater

Whitewater, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 58%

UWW offers a law enforcement bachelor's degree-completion program that provides a path to a bachelor's in criminology for law enforcement officers who have been working for at least three years and already hold an associate degree. The program combines credit for prior learning, independent learning, online learning, and traditional face-to-face courses.

Degree-seekers can complete the UWW criminology program in three years. Required major coursework includes introduction to criminology, criminal investigation, criminological theory, and forensic documentation.

Each applicant should complete an initial expression of interest form on the program website. UWW is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

4

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 83%

FSU offers an online bachelor's degree in criminology and criminal justice that prepares individuals for careers as child welfare caseworkers, victim advocates, private investigators, parole officers, or social services case managers. The program can also lead to further graduate studies or law school.

This online criminology degree requires the completion of all general education credits and 36 credits in major-specific coursework. Major core courses include introduction to criminal justice, white-collar crime, the sociology of black males, and crimes against humanity.

To graduate, each student must hold an associate of arts degree from a Florida institution or complete FSU's liberal studies requirements, earn 36 credits of criminology courses with a "C" or higher in three core courses, and maintain an overall 2.0 GPA. FSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

5

LeTourneau University

Longview, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 61%

LETU offers a bachelor of science in criminal justice that provides students with an understanding of criminal behavior and positive methods for conflict resolution, including restorative justice and alternative behavior modification incentives. Enrollees can pursue online and on-campus formats.

This criminal justice degree requires 120 credits, including 36 credits of major coursework. Students can choose from three concentrations: criminal justice management, human trafficking, and homeland security. Required major courses include criminal law, justice and human rights, and police and the community. University requirements include theology and vocation courses.

Each applicant must hold a high school diploma (or equivalent), a minimum 2.5 GPA, and a minimum SAT score of 1030. LETU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

6

Missouri State University

Springfield, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

MSU offers a bachelor of science and bachelor of arts in criminology. The bachelor of science awards a degree more specialized in criminology, while the bachelor of arts includes liberal arts requirements like foreign languages, fine arts, and humanities with its criminology courses.

Students must declare their major before completing 60 credits at MSU. The criminology program requires 45 credits in major requirements in addition to general education requirements. Major core courses include juvenile justice, criminal procedure, and criminal law and the courts.

MSU admits students on a sliding scale, based on their class rank and GPA, which determines what minimum test scores they need to have on the SAT or ACT. The higher a candidate's class rank and GPA, the lower the test score threshold. MSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

7

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

Saint Mary of the Woods, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 57%

SMWC offers a bachelor of science in criminology that prepares individuals for careers in law enforcement or the criminal justice system. The program provides a social science understanding of crime and criminal behavior, along with a solid foundation in liberal arts. Students can complete the program on campus or online.

The bachelor of science program requires 36 credits of major coursework in criminology, in addition to general education requirements. Major core courses include juvenile justice, corrections, and criminal interviewing and investigation. Students can choose from concentrations in psychology or sociology.

Each applicant must possess a high school diploma (or equivalent) and submit their transcripts. Test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, are not required for admission but are encouraged. SMWC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

8

University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Wilmington, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

UNCW offers an online bachelor of arts in criminology with concentrations in criminal justice, criminology, and public criminology. Enrollees can complete the first two concentrations entirely online, while the public criminology concentration may require some in-person classes.

The bachelor of arts in criminology program requires 39 credits of major coursework, in addition to all general education and university requirements. Core courses include criminology, methods of social research, and sociological data analysis and interpretation. Students must also complete seminars in their chosen area of concentration.

Each applicant must possess a high school diploma (or equivalent) and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Transfer students must have 24 credits of transferable college-level coursework. UNCW is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

9

Regis University

Denver, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 69%

Regis offers a bachelor of science in criminology that examines crime as a social phenomenon and emphasizes a sociological approach to analyzing the social, political, and environmental factors that influence crime. Regis also offers a combined bachelor's to master's program in criminology for those who plan to pursue further graduate studies and wish to save time.

The bachelor of science in criminology requires 120 credits and takes four years to complete. Major coursework includes introduction to forensic science, crime analysis, psychology of crime, and family violence. Program electives offer courses on topics of youth violence and delinquency, homeland security, and animal exploitation.

Each applicant must possess a high school diploma (or equivalent) and submit all previous transcripts. Regis is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

10

Arizona State University

Scottsdale, AZ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

Based in Tempe, Arizona State University is one of the largest schools in the U.S., currently enrolling nearly 75,000 students. This leading research university offers more than 300 online degrees, including a bachelor of science in criminology and criminal justice.

Students in this BS program explore the causes and consequences of crime, as well as the roles of agencies responsible for managing crime. The 120-credit curriculum covers topics such as introduction to policing, courts and sentencing, and statistical analysis.

Graduates can pursue a variety of career paths, including positions as correctional officers, forensic specialists, and fraud investigators. To apply, prospective students must hold a minimum 3.0 high school GPA, rank in the top 25% of their graduating class, or meet minimum SAT or ACT score requirements.

What Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor's in Criminology?

A bachelor of science in criminology covers the fundamentals of criminal behavior and crime control, but the details of individual programs vary. In general, programs explore the root causes of crime and delinquency using a number of sociological, ethical, and psychological theories. Below are a few sample courses that can be expected from a bachelor of criminology and criminal justice degree:

  • Victimology: Courses in victimology examine the relationship between victims and criminals and explores how victims are treated in the broader criminal justice system. Students learn about a number issues including risk factors, consequences of victimization, non-reporting of crimes, prevention, and victim rights and advocacy.
  • Juvenile Justice: This course examines youth violence, delinquency, and dependency, as well as the relationships that exist between children, adolescents, law, and society. Topics that are discussed include issues such as juvenile justice administration, gangs, drugs, theft, vandalism, and truancy.
  • Psychology of Crime: The psychology of crime combines theory and behavioral science research to explain criminal behavior and interpersonal violence. Topics include psychological disorders, treatment and assessment, punishment and sentencing, the insanity defense, morality and ethics, and forensic assessment.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Criminology Degrees

Signifying a commitment to high-quality education, accreditation is an important consideration when applying to online bachelor's programs in criminology. An accredited school voluntarily complies with a set of standards, develops a quality assurance plan, and undergoes repeated financial, retention rate, and job placement reviews. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) determines the scope and criteria used by accreditors, recognizes and approves accreditation agencies, and publishes a list of accreditors and accredited schools.

The ED, however, does not individually accredit institutions or programs. Operating in partnership with the ED, the U.S. Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversees a number of accreditation processes in United States, including regional accreditation. Regional accreditation is generally considered the best indicator of academic quality, while national accreditation is typically reserved for vocational or technical programs. Specialized accreditation bodies also exists for particular fields, such as engineering or education.

For individuals applying to bachelor's in criminology programs, it's best to choose an accredited school because it means that the institution has been thoroughly vetted. Employers often prefer to hire candidates with degrees from accredited institutions, which is especially useful for the post-graduation job hunt. Accreditation is also important in that it determines your eligibility for federal financial aid. Students who wish to receive federal grants or loans must attend a nationally accredited school.

Career Opportunities for Bachelor's in Criminology Graduates

Graduates of online bachelor's in criminology need to put theory into practice, which means finding the right job after graduation. Understanding the causes and consequences of criminal behavior enables budding criminologists to have successful careers in a number of areas including law enforcement, government, public administration, social services, and community planning.

Police and Detectives

Police officers pursue, warn, apprehend, and arrest people who break the law. Duties include responding to calls, patrolling areas, investigating suspicious activity, issuing citations, providing first aid to victims, and writing detailed reports. Law enforcement officers work at the local, state, or federal level.

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists help prevent crime by monitoring and evaluating the behavior of probationers. They help rehabilitate, supervise, and train individuals who are currently in prison or those who have been released. Probation officers must write and maintain detailed files and case reports.

Correctional Officers and Bailiffs

Correctional officers oversee individuals who have been arrested and those who are awaiting trial and sentencing. They settle disputes, enforce discipline, and maintain security by searching inmates. During civil and criminal trials, bailiffs maintain order and safety within courtrooms.

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, also known as addiction counselors, help individuals who suffer from drug addiction, alcoholism, and other behavioral problems which may lead to illegal or criminal behavior. By providing treatment and other support, they help improve their clients' personal relationships and overall quality of life.

Court Reporter

Using stenotype machines and digital recorders, court reporters create word-for-word transcripts of conversations, depositions, and testimonies. They play an important role in the criminal justice system by by creating official records of court proceedings.

BACHELOR'S IN CRIMINOLOGY SALARY

Searching for a job can be difficult, but an online bachelor's in criminology can help you stand out from other candidates. Not all law enforcement positions are created alike, however, and salaries will vary by profession and years of experience. The average salary for police officers and court reporters hovers around $50,000 per year. Probation officers and correctional officers have lower earnings at the start of their careers but can earn substantially more as they exceed 10 years of experience. Below is a table of median salaries for law enforcement officials at various stages of their careers:

Median Salary by Experience

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Police Officer $40,000 $48,000 $51,000 $60,000
Probation Officer $37,000 $42,000 $46,000 $59,000
Correctional Officer $32,000 $36,000 $40,000 $49,000
Substance Abuse Counselor $34,000 $38,000 $41,000 $44,000
Court Reporter $38,000 $46,000 $57,000 $60,000

Source: Payscale

Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Criminology Program

Students can finance their bachelor of science in criminology in a number of ways, including through loans, grants, and scholarships. Prior to enrollment, students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify for federal financial aid and work-study programs. Some need-based scholarships also require students to have completed the FAFSA. Additional scholarships may be available through professional organizations such as the National Law Enforcement and Firefighters Children's Foundation and the National Criminal Justice Honor Society.


AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.